Monday, 20 January 2014

Patience reaps it own rewards...........

After moaning to anyone and everyone who would listen concerning the non-arrival of a much longed for parcel from Canada on Saturday morning a Custom's demand dropped onto my door mat!

In reality I think both the sender and I had given up hope of this parcel ever being seen again - I had even searched E-Bay just in case anyone was selling buffalo and silk yarn!  The parcel had been in transit for two months to the day - posted on November 18th it was collected by me on January 18th with much jubilation and several cheers from the waiting queue...

Well what, you might ask, is all the fuss about?  When Mr S asked me what I would really, really like for Christmas, bearing in mind that we don't really do special presents, I thought for a moment or two and declared that I would like to order some luxury yarns from Tabi of Sericin Silkworks.  This, of course, would incur a customs charge, but I thought if I ordered enough the ridiculous £8  'admin' charge would be spread over more items - logical or what?

So this is what I bought -

3 Skeins of Buffalo and Silk 50/50 undyed yarn

3 skeins of Mink, Merino and Silk (70/20/10) undyed yarn

1 skein of 100% Cashmere yarn

1 Skein of Smokey Emerald - Buffalo/Silk yarn

Clouds of Luxury - Camel Down, Brown and White Cashmere, Mink and Buffalo fibre.

At the moment all I can do is to give it squidge every now and again, I will pluck up the courage to get the dye pots out sometime soon!

The other good news is my Ply magazine arrived this morning - only 10 days late!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Steadfast Hand......

Back before Christmas Interweave had a sale and I bought three instructional DVDs, just so I would have something to watch during the dark days in January! Or that is my excuse and I'm sticking to that!

Two were with Deb Menz - Colour and Yarn Design for Spinners and Colour Work for Spinners, were on colour blending and supplement her book Colour Works The Crafter's Guide to Colour which I have found very useful in the past, plus they were at a bargain price of $5.99 each - so not to be missed

The other was the Gentle Art of Plying with Judith MacKenzie.  The blurb says 'Plying is not an afterthought. Its your gateway into the vast world of yarn design'.  Thinking back to when I learnt to spin plying wasn't given that much attention, in fact it was suggest that now you have mastered the hard part - spinning a single - plying was the fun part!

Not so, there is far more to plying than simply twisting two (or more) singles together............  Judith actually shows how to make a 5ply yarn, but I haven't tried that as yet!

Judith's method requires a steadfast hand - this hand (in my case my right hand) does not move, it does exactly what it says - it stays still and controlling the singles as they are drawn from the Kate and keeping both with the same amount of tension -  while the other hand (my left) controls the amount of twist - and it works!  Not that I am saying that my yarns were wrongly plied in the past, but since using this method my yarns are so much better! So I can't recommend this DVD enough, if you get a chance of it at a bargain price or even at the current asking price of $20 - go for it!

This yarn is made from Spelsau fibre - Southern Cross Fibre's December coordinate in Cabernet - plied with the steadfast method............ 

I have also made good use of the DVD's on working with colour.  Back when the sun shone I experimented dyeing silks with Elderberries and was suprised how the dye took differently on Mulberry and Tussah silk.  Tussah seems to have a much more subtle colour to the Mulberry, but that's by the by.

Mulberry Dyeing

As a result of this dyeing experiment I had several batches of dyed silk in 25 gram lots, not enough on their own, but if I thought that if I blended some merino top to match then perhaps I would get enough yarn for a shawl!  Plus I would get to play with my Blending Board.

Mulberry Dyed Bombyx Mori
This is what I wanted to match, so I played around with colours and came up with a blend of Lavender, Magenta and Amethyst

For the 25grams of silk I blended 40 grams of merino and spun two lots of singles.

These are spun singles, the blended merino is on the top bobbin and the silk on the lower one and I think that they are pretty well matched...........  Here is the finished yarn on the bobbin

and the skeined yarn approximately 415 yards of silk and merino yarn

Whisper Who Dares!
Next, some walnut dyed Tussah and another blend perhaps?


Friday, 10 January 2014

Welcome to the Black Hole, a Post Free Zone!

I have come to the conclusion that, for parcels coming to me from outside the UK, I live in a black hole when it comes to the Post Office, Parcel Force and courier firms...... 

My first Bliss wheel disappeared never to be seen again, according to the tracking facility my wheel entered the depot in the Netherlands and never left, although much later it was updated to address not valid - unable to deliver!  If it ever got back to Woolmakers I never heard..........

Now the latest Ply magazine - which has been arriving on door mats all over the UK for those who get their copies through Janet at The Threshing Barn.  My copy which should come straight from the publishers, and so not through a middle man - there is no sign, although the copies were received in Australia and New Zealand over a week ago. 

Likewise a parcel from Canada - posted in the middle of November, this was my proper Christmas present from Mr S a selection luxury yarns from Tabi of Sericin Silkworks, has followed my wheel into oblivion, and it is now nearing the 90 days cut off, when a parcel is deemed to be lost forever.

Again, a swap parcel from New Zealand supposedly sent in August/September - disappeared without a trace into the black hole that is the UK postal system

Am I particularly unlucky or have I been exceptionally badly behaved, or is there some evil pixie sat just waiting to knock my parcels off the sorting office table to become part of the flotsam and jetsam of never to be delivered post?

What happens to these never delivered parcels? Research shows that the Royal Mail 'made' £933,00.00 in 2010/11, and close to £1 million in 2011/12, from the sale of undeliverable parcels.  The BBC who obtained these figure under the Freedom of Information say that Royal Mail 'store valuable goods which cannot be delivered or returned for up to four months. If they are not claimed, they are then sold at auction. The company insists this is always a last resort, where the sender cannot be traced'.

Is there a warehouse of parcels, where you can go and search for your lost goods? It seems not as according to the Daily Mail, the contents of 75,000 items of undelivered post are sold off (often on Ebay) every year with some of the proceeds going to charity, but most to help with the running costs of Royal Mail, who if I understand this correctly lost the goods in the first place..............

All of my parcels should have had a return address so even if my address is not 'valid' they should in theory have been returned to sender...............  pigs might fly!!

Friday, 3 January 2014

That was the year that was!

I don't make New Year's Resolutions as I have always felt that you start with good intentions and by the end of January the enthusiasm has fizzled out and you are left with a feeling of failure...............

Instead I thought I would ponder on things I have achieved during 2013...

I think my crowning moment was being awarded First Prize at the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show for the SpinDyeWeavers display in the Action Crafts Tent.  We had put a lot of effort into 2013's exhibits with the intention of answering the two most common questions of 2012............. which were sheep fleece - aren't they all the same and do you use natural dyes?

Of course the answer to the first is no they were all bred for a specific purpose and to the second yes, but you do realize that natural dyes need chemicals to make the colour stick!

Spinning and 2013 saw the 'Murmuring of Spinning Wheels' grow!  With the addition of Demelza (Schacht Matchless), Miss Bliss (Louet Bliss), and more recently a Haldane Shetland.  Other wheels have come and gone as I continue to explore the wonderful world that is spinning.

Currently I am refurbishing a Ashford Traditional and a Louet lookalike - both Ebay purchases and both in need of tender loving care.

The Trad looked OK until you got up close and found that some kind soul had liberally covered everything, and I mean everything, in a thick gloopy varnish.

But with some remover and elbow grease the beautiful patina of the wood is showing through..

Recently I watched Judith McKenzie's Gentle Art of Plying, as, I expect like a lot of other spinners, plying for me was just the last stage of the spinning process..

The blurb says 'Plying is not an afterthought. It’s your gateway into the vast world of yarn design.' and it really is.  Since watching I have taken on board the rights and wrongs and my plying is definitely improving....

This is a skein of Cashmere and Silk (50/50) from World of Wool with I believe a very even twisted ply.  Plying needs concentration, probably more so than spinning, one steady hand and regular treadling... Take you time and try to ply in one go!

So - things for 2014...

  • I really should stop adding to my stash of fibre and yarn, but I know that is  an impossible feat - so I will try the one in one out approach if at all possible! This ambition has already been breach and its only Jan 3rd....

  • Spin everyday if only for 5 minutes

  • 'Walk' for at least 30 minutes at least 3 times a week.. This is weather dependent - I will NOT push in the wet!

  • Make the most of every minute - you never know what's round the corner and so many people not that much older than me have die recently - makes you realize that you are mortal!
Happy New Year!

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